Tech Guide

Your smartphone is filthier than you realize. Here’s how to clean it

CNBC: iPhone-clean
Todd Haselton | CNBC

Did you know the smartphone in your pocket might be the dirtiest thing on you at any given moment? An oft-cited report from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found that 92 percent of the smartphones it tested were covered with bacteria. Worse, 16 percent of the phones it examined had E. coli present. Another study says smartphone displays can be dirtier than a toilet seat. Yuck! Here's how to keep your phone clean.

Wash your hands

Ute Grabowsky|Photothek|Getty Images

It might silly but this is the best way to make sure germs don't end up on your smartphone. The aforementioned study found that most germs ended up on smartphones because folks weren't properly washing their hands after using the bathroom. If you properly wash your hands after using the facilities, your phone has a better chance of staying clean.

Clean the display with a soft cloth

Toddy Cloth

Apple suggest that iPhone and iPad owners use a "Soft-lint-free cloth," to wipe down devices. Don't use anything abrasive, since doing so could potentially add tiny scratches do your display. I've always preferred "Toddy" cloths but you can find plenty of alternatives on Amazon. Wipe down your device daily, especially if it's starting to look grimy. These cloths are great for cleaning other things, too, like computer displays and camera lenses.

Use a light disinfectant wipe

Clorox Wipes

Apple advises against using liquids or disinfectants on its devices, so keep that in mind, but the fact is you're not going to get rid of bacteria without something more powerful than a soft cloth. Lysol or Clorox disinfectant wipes work well — I've been using them on my gadgets for years without issue — and will kill 99.9 percent of viruses and bacteria. Lysol even advertises that the wipes are "Safe to use on electronics including Smartphones, Tablets and Remote Controls." Keep a tube at your desk!

Consider a UV gadget cleaner


If you're worried about using disinfectant, consider an option like "PhoneSoap," a gadget that uses UV light to kill 99.9 percent of the germs on your smartphone. It costs about $60 and can be grabbed from Amazon. A quick 10 minute stint inside the PhoneSoap not only cleans your phone, but charges it, too.